***Trigger warning in video for simulated rape***
This week began the trial of Trenton Mays and Ma’lik Richmond, two teenaged boys in Steubenville, Ohio, who were charged with the rape and kidnapping of a 15-year-old girl at a high school party this August. The boys are members of the Steubenville High School football team, local celebrities in a football-obsessed culture. Other members of the team witnessed the alleged sexual assault by Mays and Richmond of the girl, who was blackout drunk and vomiting on herself. Partygoers snapped pictures of her being carried around by her arms and legs and tweeted and texted pics of her degradation; another student at the party filmed a video where he joked about the “dead girl.”
Ever since the Steubenville rape began getting press coverage, the former porn star Traci Lords has been vocal about the local culture’s misogynistic culture. She herself was raped in Steubenville at age 10 by a 14-year-old boy. Yesterday, Lords, who is now a musician, released a song called “Stupidville” — a slang term for the town that the locals use — about sexual assault. Keep reading »
A new defense secretary has just been confirmed and already he has a big issue to address: sexual assault in the military. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) (Full disclosure: I used to work in her office), and Senator Janeane Shaheen (D-NH) recently sent a letter requesting Chuck Hagel immediately review a decision by an Air Force Lieutenant General to dismiss all charges against an officer who had been convicted of sexual assault.
Lieutenant Colonel James Wilkerson, a fighter pilot, had been charged with aggravated sexual assault on former colleague Kimberly Hanks at Aviano Air Base in Italy. Hanks had been socializing with Wilkerson and his wife at their home and stayed the evening in their guest bedroom; in the middle of the night, she woke up to find Wilkerson on top of her. He was found guilty and sentenced to a year in the brig (AKA military prison). But he never served any time in prison because his superior, Lieutenant General Craig A. Franklin, dismissed the jury’s conviction and reinstated him. Senators Boxer and Shaheen and others are rightfully concerned that a troop charged with sexual assault was let off scot-free.
Keep reading »
Keep your fingers crossed: Politico is reporting that the Violence Against Women Act is expected to pass in the House of Representatives this week.
VAWA was originally championed by then-Senator Joe Biden back in 1994 and gets renewed very six years. The bill allocates funds to help victims of rape and domestic violence, including money to process rape kits, and prosecute men accused of abusing women. Sounds like a no brainer, right? Well, it’s not. Apparently violence against women is A-OK for some of our politicians. Last year, VAWA hit a snag in the House, which refused to pass a Senate version of the bill allocating funds to undocumented women, same-sex partners, and Native American women who are abused by non-Native American men. Keep reading »